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Solidarity and defiance around the world after Paris terror attacks

12 January 2015

AP

Rally: thousands of demonstrators converge on Paris, on Sunday 

Rally: thousands of demonstrators converge on Paris, on Sunday 

MILLIONS of people joined defiant demonstrations and marches across France over the weekend after three days of Islamist terror attacks.

At the heart of the show of unity was a march of 1.5 million people in Paris in solidarity with the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and the other victims - police officers, and shoppers in a kosher supermarket.

About 40 world leaders, including David Cameron, joined the march at the request of the President, Francois Hollande.

Many among the crowds waved placards with the slogan Je suis Charlie; others brandished pencils and pens in support of the staff of Charlie Hebdo. Among the ten killed in the attack were four of the most celebrated satirical cartoonists in France.

One young boy was photographed holding a sign which read: "Later I will be a journalist. I'm not afraid!"

Thousands of soldiers and police officers have been sent to guard sensitive locations in France, including Jewish schools and public places, and the cabinet will hold crisis meetings. The country remains on its highest terror alert.

The Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, has said that there were failures of intelligence in the lead-up to the deadly wave of attacks. The three gunmen, Said and Cherif Kouachi, and Amedy Coulibaly, were known to French security services, and had met while in prison for terror-related offences.

Mr Coulibaly's partner, Hayat Boumeddiene, was named by the police as a suspect in the attacks, but has so far eluded capture. Some reports suggest that she has fled France and flown to the Middle East.

On Friday, Pope Francis sent a telegram to the Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, expressing his condolences to the families of the victims: "His Holiness Pope Francis joins in prayer with the pain of the bereaved families and the sadness of all the French. The Holy Father reiterates his condemnation of the violence, which generates so much suffering, and, imploring God to give the gift of peace, he assures the affected families and all the French the benefit of divine blessings."

Earlier last week, the Archbishop of Canterbury released a statement, in French and English, urging France to remain united in the face of terror. "The people of France, a country in which I have lived, which I know and love, will rise courageously above the challenge of this vile attack and continue to demonstrate strength and confidence arising out of their great history," he said.

In Britain, there have been demonstrations in support of freedom of speech and Charlie Hebdo, and numerous groups and organisations have released statements condemning the attacks. Among them were the Muslim Council of Britain, the Islamic Society of Britain, the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe, the British Humanist Association, and the International Humanist and Ethical Union. The Church of England has released prayers for the victims.

In Chelmsford, the Dean, the Very Revd Nicholas Henshall, and the imam of Chelmsford Mosque, Kashif Ahmad, stood side by side in a public display of solidarity to denounce the killings in Paris as an affront to Christians and Muslims alike.

An act of public remembrance was held in Sheffield near the city's cenotaph. Local politicians and representatives of different faith groups, including the Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Revd Steven Croft, reflected on the atrocities in Paris.

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